In the never-ending parade of weird phenomena erupting from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano comes a “rain” of green crystals, which have supposedly been spotted on the ground after falling from the sky.
“It is literally raining gems,” tweeted Tucson meteorologist Erin Jordan, who posted a photo sent to her by a friend in Hawaii.
The gems are also known as olivine, “a common mineral in basaltic lava, which is what this eruption is producing,” said Concord University volcanologist Janine Krippner. “Olivine is formed in hot and deep magmas and is brought up to the surface during an eruption.”
Although photos have been posted on social media, no scientists have confirmed any official sightings on the ground.
If verified, this olivine could have fallen out of the lava as it was spewed into the air, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Wendy Stovall told Mashable.
It’s certainly not unusual to find olivine crystals in most Hawaiian lava rock, both new and ancient. “It’s pretty common,” Stovall said to Mashable. “There’s often olivine in rocks all over Hawaii.”
Krippner said “there is even a green sand beach in Hawaii from these minerals eroding out of the basalt (lava).” Green sand beaches are rare, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The crystals are heavier than most sand types on the beach and remain behind when lighter sand grains are washed away by strong wave activity, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The little crystals discovered near the volcano this week, however, are not being created during the eruption. They’ve been formed deep underground long ago, brewing in the molten rock, Mashable reported.
However, falling from the sky during an eruption is an unusual event: “I have never heard of it raining out as single crystals like this,” Krippner said.
This eruption episode began May 3 and has destroyed hundreds of homes on Hawaii’s Big Island.